Mental Health Care in US – School Shootings and the Mental Health Crisis in Teens
School shootings seem to have become commonplace in our society. They are definitely more common than they used to be. The earliest recorded school shooting was in 1764. In fact, there was no more listed until 1850. Since then, there were only 28 school shootings in the 19th century, 226 in the 20th century, and there have already been 223 so far in the 20th century and the century has just barely started. If the violence continues at this rate, the 20th century will have over one thousand school shootings! Why is this becoming such a big issue?
While many people want to blame gun control, others insist that arming the teachers and staff with guns would stop the problem. Give guns to the teachers so they can protect their students and themselves. However, the thing that they are overlooking is the mental aspect, which is basically the lack of mental health care for children and adolescents. It is clear that those who committed these atrocious crimes were not mentally stable and many had been diagnosed with various mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder. According to a recent study, there are two major reasons for school shootings; bullying and mental health disorders. Some of those who committed the shootings were treated previously but the mental health care they needed was not given to them, either because the parents did not know they needed it or they could not afford it.
Health Insurance for Mental Health
Most insurance carriers do not provide coverage for the extensive treatment that these adolescents could have benefitted from. In fact, one in five children from age 13 to 18 suffer from a mental health condition and 60% of them are not being treated. Not only because of insurance but because of the lack of mental health care in most states. There is a huge shortage of licensed professionals and even fewer beds available for inpatient treatment. According to the Washington Post, there is only one psychiatrist for each 1800 patients. The need calls for over 30,000 psychiatrists and there are approximately 9,000 in the United States.
What About Federal Aid?
And for those who cannot afford health insurance that will cover mental health care? There is little to no help for them and they are the most often affected. In fact, according to Mental Health America, over 63% of children and adolescents with depression do not get mental health care. So, six out of 10 children who have depression, who are most at risk to carry out a school shooting, do not get treatment. While some states have programs to help these parents and their children, the waiting lists are long and the red tape to get help is unreal. Budget cuts have cut down federal mental health care programs to almost nil. And the help that they do have is almost impossible to qualify for. In fact, in some states you have to give up your parental rights to your child for them to get any kind of mental health care provided by the government. Give up your child to save your child? Most people are just not willing to do that because they do not trust that they will get their children back.
Where Have the School Counselors Gone?
Many parents are asking what happened to the school counselors. Well, many schools do not even have a school counselor anymore. This could be in part because of the lack of these professionals or it could be a monetary issue. But, it is also because school counselors are not actually able to treat these children as if they were in a clinical setting. Because it is not a clinical setting. Schools are unable to get malpractice insurance so they use the counselors that they do have as glorified office workers or babysitters.
So, what can you do? Many parents are turning to online therapy. This is such a great option because young people seem to feel comfortable doing just about anything online. It is much easier to get your stubborn teenager to talk to a therapist through texting or chatting rather than getting them to go to an office appointment. And you can try it anytime of the day or night, no need to wait for an appointment. You can do it now
Find the original photo by Jordan Sanchez HERE.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.